Help! I Swallowed the Canary

Photo Courtesy of Salim Yousuf Kazi

Hello all you fellow comrades in ink, you swarthy (I’ve always wanted to use that word) pirates of letters, you makers of mayhem sewn into denouement!  I interrupt (mooooo!) this NaNoWriMo broadcast to post a question.  How do you keep a secret?!

A new and delicious plot twist came to me and I really want to tell the world!  Let me back up.  This is my third attempt at NaNoWriMo.  I prepared like a prize fighter for this one.  The story I’m writing has been in there (the metaphoric barrel of monkeys known as my brain) for nearly a year.  I’ve scratched ideas on it here and there (three different notebooks have little scribbles I’ve had to decipher and wonder what I was thinking).  I plotted.  I actually outlined this thing (as far as my non-organized, chaotic and frenetic little brainwaves would let me).  Too many parentheses?  Okay.

Here’s my point.  It gets BORING, and one easily loses motivation when writing a story that has spent so much time reprogramming the brain into thinking it’s usual, humdrum, run-of-the-mill, and bland.  Perhaps this is just a story’s “death by familiarity syndrome” (not on Google yet), but every writer knows – it is real.  So when this plot twist smacked me in the face out of the blue, I was smitten.  I nearly bought it a ring.

Having just come out of the ho-hum doldrums and found new energy in writing this novel, I know what King explains, in his On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft, is true.  “Don’t tell.”  If I tell, it will start to lose its luster.  So I walk around like I swallowed the canary.  Well, I did.

Any tricks or advice on this impulse control temptation?

Image Courtesy of Salim Yousuf Kazi at


6 thoughts on “Help! I Swallowed the Canary

  1. That’s a touch one. You could tell some who 1) will never tell and 2) will never read your book, but good luck finding someone close to you who fits both bills. I, personally, tell my 17 year old daughter. She adds good perspective and is a good beta reader. My husband doesn’t want to know ANY plot twists or the ending until the book is DONE. He may be waiting quite some time.

    So, tell or not to tell? Do you have a writing group? Would one of them be willing to be your confidant? Otherwise, you might just choke on that canary!

    • I’ll have a huge choice of writer’s groups when I finally come home for good in 71 days. Meanwhile, slim pickin’s in Pierce, Idaho. There is a librarian/NaNoWriMo in Grangeville I met when I went to my first write in. But I’m pretty sure we’re both going to want to read each other’s books. Besides, once I tell it won’t beat against my chest cavity to the rhythm of productive and spontaneous creativity every time I sit to write. It’s why I’m going to catch up with you eventually! 😀

  2. That’s quite the difficult predicament. I think it depends on WHO you tell. Sometimes, when one of these moments of inspiration hits me, I’ll tell a friend and s/he won’t have the same kind of enthusiasm I do, and I’ll start second guessing myself or feel like I wasted my excitement. However, if I tell my husband, he gets really excited and asks a lot of questions, which fuels my excitement and really boosts my confidence. I think if you know the person you tell will pump you up even more, then go for it, but if not, keep that canary down!

    • It’s like you reached into my psyche and pulled out my clown ribbons! So true! And even though I know my beta reader would be elated with this idea, I don’t know if there’s anyone in the world who would be as excited as I am about it. So it looks like the cat stays in the bag until the novel is finished.


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